Like flowers threaded to form a sheet, woven intricately, the free white petals settling in a designed pattern, accepting the arrangement with joy, like an endless beaded wave of fragrant flower-colours, the ragas also weave intricately musical framework that evokes fragrant feelings in a quiet listener’s mind.
Just like the perfection-loving flowers – the humble sepal, the vibrant petal, the ambitious anther – the ragas too know how to bloom to perfection. Capturing the exact mood that exudes the season’s essence perfectly, the ragas effortlessly scent time making it beautifully appreciable.
The scented time celebrates the raga – in Vilambit laya (slow tempo), Madhya laya (medium tempo), Drut laya (fast tempo) – accepting every melodic improvisation, evolving with each performance, never bothering with change, rather ushering it with consistent Riyaz (practice).
Overwhelming calculations keep the ragas free from vegetating and from the burden of the past that at times tries to confine its spirit, but almost always the spirit remembers to break free.
The many notations, the Swara, bring forth incessant improvisations, giving space to every emotional twist, forming an intricate, fragrant Mandala.
The ragas symbolise, like a flower threaded sheet, intricacies of life… and more.
Lat uljhi suljha ja balam
Piya more haath mein mehndi lagi hai
Lat uljhi suljha ja balam…
Mathe ki bindiya bikhar rahi hai
Apne hi haath laga ja balam
Lat uljhi suljha ja balam…
(Translation – Disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ I have applied henna on my hands/ So come and disentangle my hair, dear beloved/ The bindiya too is spreading on my forehead/ Correct it for me with your own hands, dear beloved/ Disentangle my hair, dear beloved)
This Bandish* in raga Bihag decorates time with a jasmine-rich fragrant emotion that vehemently values love and life.
*Bindiya – a colourful dot mark worn between the eyebrows, especially by married Hindu women.
*Bandish – a composition in Hindustani classical music.
Gabbeh, the 1996 film, is a simple tale of a gipsy girl, her clan and the way their life goes on.
Unfolding beautifully just like an artist painting a canvas, Gabbeh quietly touches the grand questions.
What is the purpose of existence, what is this feeling of love, what makes colours so harmonious, so arresting?
The complexities, the insatiable desires, the mind games, what helps and what hinders, how do we know?
What is to be said, heard and done before death?
The film weaves a beautiful pattern of such thoughts, but subtly, charmingly that one gets truly absorbed in the flow of the story and does not feel staggered or burdened at all.
The story is exceptionally close to reality even though the style of its narration is truly poetic. It is simple and complex, romantic and mystifying, colourful and rough, complete and incomplete.
Presenting life from a woman’s point of view, talking about the role of a woman in a family, sharing her aspirations and wishes with us, the entire story thus, inherently is full of warmth, colour and calmness, making the love palpable for the viewer.
The best way to describe Gabbeh would be to call it a dream. It is a folk tale, a myth and yet an unembellished raw saga; hazy, vibrant, unreal and real at the same time.
Gabbeh is an experience, a dream that you must see one day.
Written and Directed by – Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Gabbeh – Shaghayeh Djodat, Music by – Hossein Alizadeh, Cinematography – Mahmoud Kalari, Edited by – Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Language – Persian.
Sufi poet and singer, Amir Khusrau (1253 – 1325), famously known as the ‘Voice of India’, was an expert in unifying the mundane with the divine. His poetry presents the mystic in him and the mystical world around him.
Reading his verses, seeing through his eyes, one gets a chance to experience the transcendental self.
Here is one of his most famous poems on Basant (spring) –
सकल बन फूल रही सरसों।
बन बिन फूल रही सरसों।।
अंबवा फूटे, टेसू फूले
कोयल बोले डार-डार
और गोरी करत सिंगार
मलनियां गेंदवा ले आईं कर सो।
सकल बन फूल रही सरसों।।
तरह तरह के फूल खिलाए
ले गेंदवा हाथन में आए
निज़ामुद्दीन के दरवज्जे पर
आवन कह गए आशिक रंग
और बीत गए बरसों।
सकल बन फूल रही सरसों।।
Literal translation –
The yellow mustard flower is blooming in every field,
Not a forest, yet like a forest of mustard flowers.
Mango buds are clicking open, and other flowers are blooming too;
The Cuckoo bird chirps from branch to branch,
And the maiden does her make-up,
The gardener-girl has brought marigolds.
The yellow mustard flower is blooming in every field.
Colourful flowers bloom everywhere,
With marigolds in hand,
Waiting at Nizamuddin’s door
For the beloved who had promised to come
In spring, but hasn’t turned up – it has been many years since.
The yellow mustard flower is blooming in every field.
My Take –
The delicate mustard plants are ruling the world and the forests are shying away from their glory, what a splendour, a burst of yellow joy this is.
Seeing the blossoms, the cuckoo bird begins singing, its melody though familiar, fills every heart with delight.
And with a delighted heart one beautiful young girl is dressing up, she is hopeful.
And the gardener-girl has brought marigolds for joy has chosen a ‘colour’ and it is yellow, the yellow of the delicate mustard flowers.
Myriad coloured flowers everywhere and marigolds in hand, I am waiting as promised at Nizamudin’s door for the colours of love, waiting here since ages.
And the delicate mustard plants are ruling the world. It is spring.
The Sufi Touch –
In love, the whole world appears to be one with us, in this state of ecstasy every atom resonates with us and here ‘mustard plants ruling the world’ is a metaphor for it.
Further, the blooming flowers, the singing bird, the beautiful young girl, the gardener-girl and marigold enhance this feeling, this thought.
Then at the great Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya’s door, one awaits, with marigolds in hand and yellow lustre all around waits for the beloved for years and years.
Here, the poem transcends from the transient to the eternal, from passionate love to soulful love.
It becomes then about the devotee waiting for the supreme light, for the union with the ultimate soul, waiting with flowers in hand, forever in joy, waiting to attain absolute bliss.
This Sufi poem/ song has been performed by classical/ folk singers all over India and other Hindi/Urdu speaking countries.
Check out the powerful performance by Rizwan and Muazzam Ali Khan –
Love is pure truth, a divine experience, a way to live more and surpass even death.
It is a sublime fantasy that is real and better than the material world. Love is life’s paradox.
This is the idea that John Donne is expressing in the poem The Canonization. It is a reply as well as a declaration that the poet makes to the world- a world that treats lovers harshly.
He scorns the worldly, he questions the inquisitive, he proves the myths true, he places his love high and announces it as canonized.
The sudden change in his tone doesn’t bother if one recognises the powerful and apt imagery he has used in the poem.
The very first line ‘For God’s sake, hold your tongue, and let me love’ hits hard, but certainly in a good manner. In fact, it catches the interest of the reader at once.
The poem is like a necklace, beaded with beautiful and grand images like –
‘What merchant’s ships have my sighs drowned?’
‘And we in us find the eagle and the dove’
‘The phoenix riddle hath more wit/ By us; we two being one, are it’
‘As well a well-wrought urn becomes/ The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs/ And by these hymns, all shall approve /Us canonized for Love.’
‘Countries, towns, courts: beg from above/ A pattern of your love!’
These are not empty expressions as every word in the poem is linked with the central theme – love.
If we randomly pick one word from each stanza, it will still be related to the poem.
For example, ‘improve’ (stanza 1) – one who is in love grows as an individual and improves by learning to be selfless; ‘remove’ (stanza 2) – when in love you cannot dwell on hatred, and so the negativity is removed to make space for hope; ‘Mysterious’ (stanza 3) – love is an easy mystery; ‘legend’ (stanza 4) – we all remember love stories as legends, sadly these are mostly incomplete ones; ‘mirrors’ (stanza 5) – love is as reflective as a mirror.
Love is closely related to asceticism in the poem, which is one of the conceits (an ingenious or fanciful comparison or metaphor) used by the poet.
He proves it with great subtlety that the lovers need nothing from the world; they complete each other and hence, know inner peace.
The poet says that the lovers rise to such a level that they become one and enter a divine world, thus leaving the material world behind. They dwell in each other’s simple presence.
In the last stanza, after canonizing himself and his lover, the poet says that his pious canonized love would be celebrated in the world by one and all.
He ends by completing the canonization of his love, placing it on a high pedestal, and separating it from the worldly pleasures.
Canonization, the title of the poem, seems to be a question and an answer at the same time. As one wonders about how love can be canonized and attain sainthood, the divine nature of the poet’s love presented in the poem gradually justifies the same.
The poet shows that his love is spiritual not merely physical, that his union with his lover has made them blissful and assures that it will radiate amongst the others.
His canonized love is not against the world rather it is for the world, acting as an inspiration. His love is not harming anyone but is a liberating force, just like a saint’s.
John Donne’s The Canonization is a smart poem with brilliant use of wit, the quintessential quality of a metaphysical poet.
He celebrates love in a simple, forthright tone that makes this 17th-century poem wondrously alive in today’s world as well.
‘Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?’ (Stanza 2)
‘Call her one, me another fly/ We’re tapers too, and at our own cost die’ (Stanza 3)
There is a message hidden in this poem and the title ‘canonization’ is the key to unveil it. Donne wants to share that every one of us, whatever be our rank in the society that runs according to the man-made rules, has the ability to reach the divine state.
Sainthood according to him is not reserved for some but is achievable by all.
What we need is to rise above the material world, to resurrect ourselves through true love. Here the beloved represents anything- a person, God, nature, the entire world.
Love is the best, the all-embracing way to reach the sublime state as it is love that makes a person truly selfless and compassionate.
Even today if someone pursues this path, they will know that they are canonized, for they are in love.
What is the moony secret? It is the personal conversation that one has with the moon. It is intense yet quick, fierce yet soothing, honest yet an illusion.
Sidereus Nuncius (Latin for Sidereal/ Starry Messenger or Sidereal Message; published in 1610) talks in-depth about the moony secret; it is an astronomical treatise written by Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science.
Becoming one of the first few who used a telescope to study the surface of the moon (along with some constellations and Jupiter’s four moons) Galileo discovered that the moon was not translucent and ‘a perfect sphere’ like Aristotle had believed it to be, that it had mountains and craters which were formed after it was hit by asteroids and comets, just like our planet Earth was.
The moon is imperfect (its surface is irregular), said Galileo’s theory, and this magnificent, and at the same time, tumultuous discovery brought it (the moon) closer to us mortal beings, providing exhaustive research material for the future scientists, accelerating the world towards a change.
“And yet it (Earth) moves”, a rebellious phrase at that time, allegedly spoken by Galileo, led to his imprisonment.
The Copernican heliocentric view (1543) that the Sun is in the centre of the solar system, with Earth and the other planets orbiting around it in circular paths, was a theory which Galileo studied and defended.
Centuries later, Galileo’s moony secret reached the moon when astronaut David Scott, during the 1972 Apollo 15 mission, demonstrated through the ‘Falling Bodies’ experiment what Galileo had proved long back, that the “acceleration is the same for all bodies subject to gravity on the Moon, even for a hammer and a feather” (watch the video here).
A space race between the USA and the Soviet Union led to many successful moon exploration missions, both manned and unmanned ones.
While the US Surveyor probes (1966-1968) transmitted 87,000 pictures of the surface of the moon and measured its chemical properties, the manned missions brought back pieces of the moon; Apollo 11 alone brought 47.5 pounds (21.5 Kg) of the lunar material.
The twelve people who have walked on the surface of the moon also left behind items, some as meaningful gifts to the moon and some out of necessity as they needed free space to carry moon rocks home.
A golden olive branch, the Bible, a silicon disk inscribed with goodwill messages from world leaders of 74 countries, American flags, a family photo, three golf balls, scientific pieces of equipment and also, bags full of human waste are some of the “artificial objects” still lying, in worn-out or wiped-out condition, on the moon.
Lying there as a symbol of victory, of advancement, of trust and of human life itself – humans, the mortal beings of the lonely planet Earth.
Or maybe these items are just a message for the Moon Rabbit who, according to some East Asian folklore, lives on the moon, pounding elixir of life for the moon goddess Chang’e.
After all, Apollo 11 astronauts were also aware of this story; command module pilot Michael Collins had said to the NASA mission control – “Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.”
We are connecting pieces, we are steadily moving towards the darkness out there, hoping to see the light. We are all reaching out for the moon with our eyes glued to the telescope, our minds calculating the numbers, our hands painting a masterpiece, our words penning an epic, our voices singing a moony melody and our hearts feeling the moony secret.
“I wish I could send you some, it is amazing stuff, said Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan. It’s soft like snow, yet strangely abrasive. Not half bad (sic), said John Young Apollo 16 astronaut. It smells like spent (sic) gunpowder, said Cernan.”
Our love affair with the moon has only grown stronger with time; it is a part of our story and vice-versa, right, dear moon?
Science with its meticulous explorations and art with its colourful gravity will keep bringing us closer to the moon; it will take us to the moon and back.
Till then let us admire the only memento left on the moon that may last for millions of years, which is, the tracks left by the astronauts. Because there is no air or water on the moon, nothing will wipe it off, neither the extreme cold conditions nor the savage sunlight.
Till then let us continue revelling in the moony secret.
A touch of the moon colour and this life will glow and slowly will it know of a love story so pure that has travelled a long distance facing boldly every storm that has become a norm, followed by all, the same ones who secretly, meekly hope for someone to rise, rebel and risk it proudly, showing the world that a heart beats in every being, a heart that falls irrefutably in love, in love with a smile, a gesture, the earth, the sky and the moon… all this life needs is a touch of the moon colour.
Charu and Amal didn’t understand their heart’s secret, but how could it be that their own heart hid something from them, well it did. Maybe, Charu’s binoculars didn’t work properly. And Mr. Bhupati, a lost editor, busy sketching the details of a busy world, had no time for keeping secrets. Why did they give their secrets to Time for safekeeping? Time always travels light, thus, it naturally left their secrets behind, visible for them all to see, casting a spell. The spell didn’t kill, it broke hearts.
The Ghat’s Tale
Vasant… Grishm… Varsha… Sharad… Hemant… Shishir…
Six seasons talked to the Ghat near the Ganga River. The seasons brought green moss at times and dry leaves at others, dipping the Ghat into sunlight and rain shower with love, the seasons spoke less, but heard sincerely. What did the Ghat tell them? It shared stories… stories of you and me.
Let her be, why torment her, why read her notebook without her consent? She is little, just a girl, a child bride, she has left her world behind, she has carried some in her notebook.
Love is all-powerful and yet it blooms slowly in every soul taking time to realise it completely. A shade of love wrote a letter to the Postmaster who, tricked by mind, read it too late. Oh! That feeling…
The Broken Nest is a novella, while the other three are short stories; each one holds a complete universe and touches you deeply. Rabindranath Tagore beautifully writes in the language of love, his characters always express something which stays usually hidden within a heart, sidelined by the talkative world. Every story of his is like a time machine, it unfolds the past keeping it alive and magical at the same time. The birds sing sweetest of songs in his stories, the earth dances the best to his tunes, the colour red blushes flamboyantly in his paintings and tears take time to dry up when he narrates. Know his work and you will know.
A painting by Rabindranath Tagore
Home Chimes is now Chiming Stories
Welcome dear readers!
A roguish year, 2020, I believe was a twist in our LIVE story. Terrible, oh, terrible things happened. Let us nurture hope, let us learn from our mistakes, let us help each other and contribute honestly to this change.
Let the old charm of stories work, let stories heal your tired heart.
This colossal twist proves that the great writer is planning to finish a chapter, but the story is far from over. Dawn is about to break, the sun rays will fall on a new beginning soon.
Come to Chiming Stories, pocket old and new posts and watch, along with me, the horizon.
Gabbeh, the 1996 film, is a simple tale of a gipsy girl, her clan and the way their life goes on. Unfolding beautifully just like an artist painting a canvas, Gabbeh quietly touches the grand questions.
Arthdal Chronicles is a South Korean fantasy drama TV series that takes us back to the Bronze Age in a mythical land named Arth, where different human species and tribes struggle to be on the top of the power pyramid.
Yes fly! For walking on the second track is dull and usual, but dreaming high, high, high requires tools. Tools like the right pair of shoes, a chirpy, gritty soul that eats butter-jam dreams, a soul that drinks milky-milky creams.